Sri Lankan party for parliament debate on ‘Indian intervention’

By P. Karunakharan, IANS,

Colombo : Ahead of Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Colombo to discuss India’s “grave concern” over the military campaign against Tamil Tigers, a radical Sri Lankan party Sunday called for a parliamentary debate on the perceived “Indian intervention” in the island nation.

Support TwoCircles

Wimal Weerawansa, leader of the newly formed National Freedom Front (NFF), in a letter to Speaker W.J.M. Lokkubandara has requested him to call a parliamentary group leaders’ meeting Monday to discuss the issue and decide on the date for the debate.

The NFF, known to be working closely with the ruling coalition, is the breakaway faction of the radical Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), which is known for its anti-Indian stand.

The request for the parliament debate has also come at a time when President Mahinda Rajapaksa has decided to send a high-power delegation to New Delhi to hold talks after India expressed “serious concern” over the military conflict in the island nation, especially about safety of civilians caught in the war between Tamil Tiger rebels and troops.

Although media reports said senior presidential advisor Basil Rajapaksa and presidential secretary Lalith Weeratunga were to undertake this visit, a top foreign ministry official said the date and composition of the delegation were yet to be finalised.

There is a visit (by a top delegation) planned to New Delhi, but the details are yet to be finalised, Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona told IANS Sunday.

Basil Rajapaksa, who is also the younger brother of President Rajapaksa and considered as the political strategist of the ruling coalition, was not available for comment.

The fresh developments both in India and Sri Lanka came a day after Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a telephone conversation with President Rajapaksa reiterated there was “no military solution” to the conflict and urged him “to start a political process for a peacefully negotiated political settlement within the framework of a united Sri Lanka”.

After the conversation between the two leaders, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollgama invited Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee “to undertake a visit to Sri Lanka at an early date”.

In New Delhi, it was announced Sunday that Mukherjee would be visiting Colombo but the dates for this have yet to be decided.

Two days after 14 Lok Sabha MPs from Tamil Nadu’s ruling DMK party handed over post-dated resignation letters to party head and Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi demanding an end to the violence in Sri Lanka, former central minister Dayanidhi Maran followed suit Sunday afternoon.

The resignation follows a decision taken at an all-party meeting last Monday that all MPs from Tamil Nadu would resign if India did not intervene before Oct 29 to stop the “genocide” against Tamils in Sri Lanka.

So far 15 Lok Sabha MPs and four members of the Rajya Sabha, including Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi, have handed over their post-dated resignations to the DMK head.

They include seven DMK members of the central cabinet, including T.R. Baalu and A. Raja.